Food52 in 5

DIY Your Own Signature Home Scent in 5 Minutes

February 16, 2018

What can you do with just five minutes? Actually, way more than you think! Introducing Food52 in 5: your cheat sheet for speedy, delicious recipes, fun mini projects, and more.

Scent is a powerful thing. Garlic warming up in toasted sesame oil, for example, instantly transports me to my mom's kitchen, where I would sit and do homework. Not long ago, an unexpected waft of a stranger's spice-tinged perfume tugged at my memory until I finally recalled a former coworker's signature fragrance. A good scent can be a comforting, evocative experience.

Creating your own home scent can be just as transformative. This has nothing to do with masking odors, Febreze-style; instead, making or finding your own blends can be a fun way to discover your preferences, which can change over time or on a whim. In less than five minutes, you can experiment, dialing the potency up or down (and like a recipe, tweaking along the way), depending on the mood you want to conjure. Set a calming scene with lavender, a rejuvenating one with citrus, or a focus-enhancing one with peppermint.

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Below, we've rounded up some of our favorite easy, inexpensive, DIY ideas to make your home smelly in a very good way. They should each take no more than five minutes to put together and—bonus!—they make great gifts, too.

DIY Home Freshener

Fill a small canning jar (the kind with a two-part lid) halfway with odor-absorbing baking soda and stir in 10 to 20 drops of your favorite essential oil. I like Whole Foods’ in-house 365 line, as well as the Now Foods brand (the trios are a more affordable option). Stick with one note or experiment with blends (try orange and peppermint, lavender and rosemary, or lemon and eucalyptus, for example). Place a gauzy cheesecloth or scrap of pretty fabric over the jar and screw the lid on top. If you're using a tighter-weave fabric, go ahead and poke some holes. Give it a little shake every few days and add more oil as you'd like.

Photo by Julia Gartland

Oil Reed Diffuser

If you have a handful of wooden skewers lying around from last summer’s grilling season, give them new life as a gentle oil diffuser. First, grab a glass or ceramic vessel with a narrow opening. Next, combine 1/4 cup warmed-up water with 1/4 cup vodka, and up to 20 drops of your favorite essential oils (you can use one or a variety). Carefully pour the liquid into the vessel and give it a good swirl. Add a handful of skewers and be patient as the liquids move up through the sticks. If you think the scent is fading, go ahead and flip those sticks. Once the liquid is gone, make a new batch, sticks and all. Click below for the full instructions.

No-Sew Lavender Sachets

Your sock drawer is about to smell a whole lot fresher: Get an assembly line together with some pretty fabric (you'll need just a yard for about 10 sachets), and two parts dried lavender petals to one part rice. Cut two 3 1/2-inch squares of fabric. Put one piece of fabric pattern-side down (so the inside part faces you) in front of you. Place three pieces of iron-on hemming tape on three of the four sides, leaving the fourth side open to fill your sachets. After ironing the three sides, fill the sachet (either by hand or with a spoon), then place hemming tape on the fourth side before ironing on that last edge. Toss these little cuties into any drawer or closet corner that might need a freshening up. Click below for the sewn version's full instructions.

Simmer Scents

A sweet-smelling home can be as simple as warming up the stovetop. Save some of your most fragrant scraps (think leftover ginger nubs, citrus and pear peels), or gather a few clippings of eucalyptus leaves or lavender blossoms. Grab a pot, throw in your ingredients with plenty of water to cover, and simmer on your burner's lowest setting until the pleasant aromas dissipate. Click below for the full instructions.

Air Freshener

Skip the aerosol variety and make your own in a jiffy. You'll need: a small bowl, a small spray bottle, essential oils (try tea tree, rosemary, and peppermint), water, and vodka. Click below for the full instructions. In the small bowl, combine your oils. Pour those oils, along with water and vodka, into the spray bottle, close it, and give it a good shake. That was fast, wasn't it? Spray your new freshener into the air, around furniture, and on linens (being careful not to saturate textiles). Go nuts! Click below for the full instructions.

Have you ever created your own scents at home? Share your favorite blends with us.

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Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.